Plyometrics- Devil in the Details

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I wanted to share what I have learned from smart coaches who have shared their wisdom with me over the years. For simplicity sake I will just list what I have learned instead of getting into long history or other ramblings. I have a good taste in what is good information and what is just marketing nonsense. I see a lot of blogs talking about high intensity elements but without sharing the details it’s just talk. Dan and Boo have made me a better coach, but Randy and Wolfgang are just as important. Most of the things I have learned from the master coaches are things that clearly make an immediate impact that athletes comment on and that’s the sign of good information.

Jump over things instead of jumping on boxes. The purpose of plyos is to get eccentric SSC of the legs and body, not to show how high you can get your knees up. Displacing the center of mass is what we want and too much jumping on high boxes is annoying. Instead of jumping on boxes jump in place. Jumping on a tall box or even short box isn’t as good as doing jumps in place as you don’t need equipment and the exercises are far more useful.

When using boxes use short boxes for jumpers or tall boxes to help support the rhythm of the landings. The boxes should never hurt the spinal position in mid air or you will likely be compromising COM displacement for box height. I like low and wide boxes for bounding as it helps with pretension firing routines and yes the wireless EMG supports this theory of Dan Pfaff from the Las Vegas Level III school.

Do more volume or remedial work in the fall and through the first year of jumping. Athletes need to feel elastic work instead of skipping steps for the montages. Contributions of both muscle and connective tissue should be balanced to reduce injuries. Single leg medial and lateral hops are awesome.

Throwing medicine balls is fun, but it one of the best teaching progressions for olympic lifts. I understand a lot of people have olympic lifting progressions, but a more primordial progression is jumping first followed by medball throws, or jumping with an implement. Too many strength coaches think bar before body.

Use the whole foot and rock through bounds. The heel to toe roll is so important and keeps athletes healthy and the glutes firing. Boo shared this at the BSMPG conference yet I still see too much toe landings from poor dorsiflexion and inactive air mechanics reduce power and increase injury risk.

Hurdle Hops (double leg jumps) should be lower and focus on getting higher. Many athletes can do 42 but resort to survival hip flexion patterns to protect themselves rather than relaxing and focusing on the jumping routines. Also it’s good to work on hip engagement of landing to prevent knee overload and recruit posterior chain. Quarter squatting in practice with no equipment but for sets of 10 + seems to work when done before the jumping routine.

My belief is that plyometrics are valuable but are most of the time simply not a good option unless done with great technique and are extremely individualized.

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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